Maryland and Virginia Archery Deer Management Programs

bowhunterLast week, a judge in Bethesda, Maryland ruled that the Pilot Archery Managed Deer Hunting Program in two Montgomery County parks could proceed as planned, despite a desperate, last-ditch effort by the notorious and publicity-mongering animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), to block the bowhunt through a court order.

The hunt will mark the first time the parks department, part of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will use archers to safely cull the county’s deer population.

Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Callahan denied a motion filed Thursday, September 10 for a temporary restraining order sought by Bethesda resident and PETA member Eilene Cohhn to stop the managed archery deer hunts approved earlier this year by Montgomery Parks.

PETA’s legal attempt served only to temporarily delay the parks hunt, which was originally scheduled to begin September 11, the same day as the regular Maryland archery deer season. As a result, the bowhunts designed to control the problematic deer population was rescheduled until September 15 at sunrise and will run through October 21.

The archery program utilizes pre-approved hunters to take part in managed hunts over a combined area of 733 acres in the Watts Branch Stream Valley Park in Potomac and one section of the Great Seneca Valley Stream Park in Germantown.

Across the Potomac River in Fairfax County, Virginia archery is also being used to manage deer populations. The Fairfax County Deer Management Archery Program began September 12 and runs through February 20, 2016. Under the oversight of the Fairfax County Police Department, in collaboration with the Fairfax County Park Authority and the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority, the archery program is conducted in parks and other locations throughout Fairfax County.

Archery participants in both states are required to meet state safety requirements and must pass qualifications to demonstrate skill and marksmanship, in addition to carrying program identification. All archers participating in these programs must pass a criminal background check.

Archery is recognized as a safe and efficient method of deer population control by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Each states deer management program is intended to reduce and stabilize the white-tailed deer population and minimize safety and health hazards related an overabundance of deer. These impacts include thousands of deer-vehicle collisions, potential spread of diseases, and environmental damage attributed to deer that can impact the entire ecosystem.

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